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21 July, 2009

The Citizenship Foundation welcomes the publication of Unleashing Aspiration

The Panel on Fair Access to the Professions has published its final report ‘Unleashing Aspiration’. The Citizenship Foundation contributed significantly to the Panel’s research and our work introducing young people to the professions through several of our projects features as a case study in the report.

‘Unleashing Aspiration' can be downloaded, along with supporting documents, from the Cabinet Office's website.

Commenting on the publication of ‘Unleashing Aspiration', Dr Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation and a member of an advisory group that supported the Panel's work, said:

‘Since its establishment twenty years ago, the Citizenship Foundation has sought to deliver programmes that enable young people to learn about law, politics and finance through working alongside practising lawyers, politicians and finance professionals. Our non-too-hidden agenda has been to reach young people who might not be able to access these professional contacts through their family and community networks, building their understanding and broadening their horizons in the process, and we are pleased that the Fair Access to the Professions Panel recognises our efforts by mentioning Citizenship Foundation programmes such as the Bar National Mock Trial Competition, the Magistrates Court Mock Trial Competition, Lawyers in Schools, the National Youth Parliament Competition and Paying For It in its report. While these programmes have been conceived as curriculum interventions rather than careers 'lessons', many young people from poorer backgrounds who have participated in these projects have gone on to careers in the law and other areas and acknowledge that they would not have done so had it not been for their engagement in these initiatives.

‘Of course, we need better resourced - and appropriately targeted - Careers Education and Guidance and the kind of mentoring support set out in the report, but we also need to get practising professionals into the DNA of schools in poorer areas, active in curriculum programmes such as ours and involved on governing bodies and in community projects. This kind of contact can open-up professional possibilities to young people that were simply not on the horizon.

‘Finally, we welcome the report's proposals on the need to draw the growth of internships and work placements into a stronger equal opportunities framework. Increasingly, these provide a vital, but essentially secret, conduit into the professions and into politics in particular.

‘By helping more professionals to get involved in schools and by making internships more accessible, the Government can open up fairer access to the professions. The professions will be all the stronger for their new recruits, as will the communities from which these young people emerge'.


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